How to move from a small practice to one of the big four accountancy firms

We’ve already identified in many previous blogs how finance is the fulcrum to many businesses. The influence of finance departments and accountancy practices has increased markedly in recent years. With this in mind, the opportunities are as wide as they are endless for talented finance professionals.

If you are currently working in a small or niche accountancy practice, the lure of working for one of the “Big 4” is certainly an attractive one. The “Big 4” let us remind ourselves consists of EY, KPMG, Deloitte and PwC and working for one certainly opens up new avenues of opportunity for finance professionals of all levels.

Working for one of these 4 giants arguably offers so many positives including (but not exclusive to) skill specialisation and training, progression opportunities, wider selection, a higher profile of the client and so on. These might be tremendous attractions for many career-driven professionals, however, it needs to be said – it’s not for everyone.

However, let’s look at how as an accountant you may be looking to work for one of these huge names. What do you need to consider?

How do you get noticed by a Big 4 firm?

Blogging, networking, connecting with people you know on LinkedIn who work at these firms to get yourself recommended, working with MRK Associates and also keeping an eye on each hiring organisation’s “careers” pages are all solid areas to start.

However don’t be under any illusion – this is not an easy move to achieve. Your skills in a small practice will be different to the specialisms that you undertake in BIG 4.

Be clear on your career direction

Without exception, these colossal enterprises will all have a variety of operating bases and divisions and specialise in consulting, audit, tax, advisory and so on. In all likelihood, you’ll be working towards a specialist career area, so working towards one of these as much as possible before getting into the BIG 4 will help you immeasurably in the application and subsequent interview process.

You’ll need to really know your specialist area inside out to distinguish yourself from the many others who will be applying for this advertised role.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

So, you’ve got an interview with the hiring team/manager. Great news. However, now your preparation for an exhaustive interview process starts. One thing is for sure, it won’t be a one-stage process. Look into the successes of the team and who their clients are. Recite your CV and be sure of your career motivations.

Technical proficiency will be tested in the interview process to be clear on your strengths and also competency questions will be leaned on – read our advice here.

It’s good advice to reach out to colleagues/friends who work at this firm to see what characteristics hold sway. Just remember, these firms are often in the limelight for the advice they provide and the clients they work with so look up (on LinkedIn) successful employees and what skills they have had to demonstrate to succeed.

You have the skills – good luck in the application process.

Roland Seddon, Managing Director, MRK Associates.

MRK Associates is a recruitment and career advisory company specialising in three distinct areas of professional employment – finance/accountancy jobs, office support/administration jobs and revenue management/yield jobs. Our main geographical focus is in the Northern Home Counties area (Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire) where we provide a personal, knowledgeable and professional service within these markets.

For more information, please telephone 01442 894555 or email:


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